Yupiit School District Yupiit Elitnaurutait Program
The Yupiit School District (YSD), formed by the Yup'ik villages of Akiachak, Akiak, and Tuluksak, designed a program for cultural heritage education entitled Yupiit Elitnaurutait (Cultural Teachings) whose central principle is "to strengthen and support the Yup'ik identity of students through the Yupiit Piciryarait (Way of Life)" . As part of that program, Yupiit Elitnaurutait staff members identified a theme of Akiachak Then and Now for this Project Jukebox, to bring Yup'ik oral history, traditional knowledge, and historical documentation into the classroom and community through the current perspectives of respected Akiachak elders and long-time community members.
Project and Community Collaboration
The Akiachak Project Jukebox reflects a close working relationship between staff members of both Yupiit Elitnaurutait and the Oral History Program of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the community of Akiachak. Yupiit Elitnaurutait Local Cultural Coordinator, Mary Frederick, organized focus group meetings in Akiachak with elders and other community members, and was instrumental in compiling a list of topics of community interest for this project. She contacted selected community members to schedule requested interviews in Akiachak during October 2005 and March 2006. Yupiit Elitnaurutait and Project Jukebox staff members jointly conducted interviews; Curriculum Specialist Sophie Kasayulie translated and Frank Chingliak, District Cultural Specialist and Archivist/Translator, videotaped interview sessions. The Yupiit Elitnaurutait team reviewed keyworded interviews for the website, drafted biographies for narrators, and critiqued progressive drafts of the Akiachak Then and Now website. Tom Kasayulie, Elizabeth Peter, and Bonnie James offered personal collections of historical photographs for use in Akiachak Then and Now, and elders worked with Yupiit Elitnaurutait staff members to identify pictured individuals and locations as needed. Nellie Moses and Elsie Wassilie drew maps of the village of Akiachak as it appeared in the 1930s. Previously videotaped interviews with elders Frederick Sualpi T. George, John Selaap’aq Constantine, George Ayaginaar Moses, and James Qukailnguq Peter, Sr., conducted by the Yupiit School District to document traditional knowledge, were also excerpted by Frank Chingliak for this Akiachak Project Jukebox. In 2021, the Akiachak Project Jukebox was upgraded from its original HTML format to Drupal. The information in this project reflects the context of the original creation date. Some information may now be out of date.
Alaska Native Claim Settlement Act (ANCSA) 14(h)(1) Collection
Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act ("ANCSA" ) of 1971, Section 14(h)(1), Historical Places and Cemetery Sites, allowed the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to convey fee title to existing cemetery sites and historical places. Yup'ik elders were interviewed as part of the process of determining historical sites of enduring significance to Alaska Native communities, and oral history interviews were tape recorded with accompanying field notes, photographs and site maps for many historical places.
Credits and Acknowledgments
The Akiachak Jukebox Project, Akiachak Then and Now, gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following individuals and agencies who helped to make this work possible:
Sharon Anderson, Curriculum Coordinator for the Yupiit School District (YSD), developed the conceptual framework and grant funding for the overall YSD Project Jukebox. She provided enduring and energetic personal support in linking the Yupiit Elitnaurutait program with the Oral History Program of the University of Alaska Fairbanks to accomplish Jukebox sites for Akiachak, Akiak, and Tuluksak.
Kenneth L. Pratt, ANCSA Program Manager, and Robert Drozda, Research Professional, for the BIA ANCSA program in Anchorage and in the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, supported and guided project efforts to access the BIA ANCSA 14(h)(1) oral history collection.
Jim Simard, Librarian and Curator of Collections at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections, Juneau, Alaska, persevered in locating a source collection for the archival 1884 photograph of grave markers taken at Qikertarmiut by Moravian Church missionaries J.A.H. Hartmann and W.H. Weinland (below).
Oral History Program staff members Karen Brewster, Marie Mitchell, Louann Rank, and Marla Statscewich traveled to Akiachak to work with the Yupiit School District and the community in realizing Akiachak Then and Now. Karen Brewster provided project administration, training, audio taping and interviewing; Marla Statscewich contributed photography, audio taping, and early design work; Marie Mitchell produced and designed the website, furnishing technical training and photography as well; and Louann Rank interviewed Akiachak community members and provided research and writing.
Photo Credits and Acknowledgments
Grave makers at Qikertarmiut, 1884. Photo taken by Moravian Church missionaries J.A.H. Hartmann and W.H. Weinland in the early years of Moravian entry into the Kuskokwim River area. Alaska State Library, James H. Barker Photograph Collection, Hartmann & Weinland Photographers (1884), ASL-PCA-163-1075.